The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900

By Diana Preston | Go to book overview

7
City of Mud and Fire

It was in the center that the melodrama and comedy were played -- the rim was nearly all tragedy. -- Herbert Hoover

tHE people of Tientsin had the unenviable reputation of being among the most "quarrelsome and obstreperous" in China. The arrival of thousands of Boxers in the early months of 1900 had compounded this natural truculence. Local malcontents, petty criminals, and boatmen thrown out of their jobs by the Peking-Tientsin railway mingled with young peasants flocking in to escape the droughtravaged countryside. By early June they were swaggering openly through the Chinese City, which they now controlled and which abutted the foreign settlement. Boxer placards plastered over the city's mud walls whipped up antiforeign feeling and preyed on people's superstitions. One placard concluded with an instruction reminiscent of a chain letter: "Those who see this sheet and distribute six copies will deliver a whole family from calamity. If ten sheets are circulated they will save an entire district. If any see this hand-bill and fail to disseminate it they will certainly be beheaded."

The Boxers instructed the population how to do their hair, what to wear, what to eat, and when to burn incense. They even led them in singing a curious little rhyme: "When women don't dress their locks, we can chop off the foreigners' blocks; when women don't bind their kickers, we can kill all the foreigners with snickers." The Tientsin correspondent of the North China Herald

-105-

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The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Prologue ix
  • Part I - The Poison in the Well 1
  • 1 - Thousand Deaths 3
  • 2 - Boxer and Devils 22
  • 3 - The Approaching Hour 33
  • 4 - Rats in a Trap 51
  • 5 - Sha! Sha! 66
  • Part II - Death and Destruction to the Foreigner! 87
  • 6 - A Failed Rescue 89
  • 7 - City of Mud and Fire 105
  • 8 - Behind the Tartar Wall 124
  • 9 - The Drifting Horror 146
  • 10 - The Darkest Night 165
  • Part III - War and Watermelons 175
  • 11 - A Truce and a Triumph 177
  • 12 - The Half-Armistice 190
  • 13 - Horsemeat and Hope 213
  • 14 - In Through the Sluice Gate 233
  • Part IV - Murder, Rape, and Exile 251
  • 15 - Tour of Inspection 253
  • 16 - The Osland of the Peitang 262
  • 17 - Tke Faith and Fate of the Missionaries 275
  • 18 - The Spoils of Peking 283
  • Part V - Another Country 297
  • 19 - The Treaty 299
  • 20 - The Court Returns 312
  • 21 - . . and the Foreigner Departs 320
  • 22 - The Boxer Legacy 335
  • Epilogue 353
  • Acknowledgments 361
  • Notes and Sources 363
  • Bibliography 402
  • Art Credits 409
  • Index 410
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